English Editorial Fall 2015

A banner carried in the Children’s Garden Parade at the Common Ground Country Fair: “We All Belong in the Garden.” English photo

By Jean English, Editor, The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener

The well known “Powers of Ten” film (available on YouTube) shows the relative scale of the Universe, beginning with a young couple picnicking on Earth and then expanding outward until the entire universe is shown. Then the view moves back in, until it focuses on the picnicking man’s hand and then on an atom and its quarks on that hand.

Sometimes my life, like many of yours, I suspect, feels like a mini “Powers of Ten” film – with home, farm and garden being the tiny quarks of my universe. Here a community of tachinid flies, lady bugs, parasitic wasps and other insects flit about on parsnip flowers, and ladybugs flourish on extrafloral nectar glands on elderberry stems. My powers-of-flowers garden is as amazing to me as the grand view of the universe, with its alternating areas of empty space and intense activity.

Focusing out, the local markets and nearby farms I visit all revolve around MOFGA connections. No need to go as far as the Milky Way for inspiration; the powers of MOFGA usually suffice. I am so grateful to our certified organic growers who work so hard to raise crops and livestock and to get to markets and cheerfully greet customers. I love to buy their products, knowing that they have not been treated with synthetic pesticides or growth hormones, that they have no genetically engineered ingredients, that they were raised with respect for soil health and soil life.

Beyond those local markets, so many MOFGA events throughout the state have inspired and informed my life and those of the farmers from whom I buy. The Common Ground Country Fair is the most prominent, of course, but there are many others: Farm & Homestead Day, the Farmer to Farmer Conference, farm and garden tours … Through encounters at so many MOFGA events, I’ve learned how to grow pole beans up sunflower stems; which tomato is just the right size and flavor for me (‘Chateau Rose’); how to scythe the weeds that grow around my blueberry bushes; how to make our home more energy efficient; how to impact politics to help save the environment.

And I’m not alone. At a MOFGA Farm Training Project (FTP) farm tour this summer, a MOFGA apprentice tried a wheel hoe for the first time. Such excitement! A seemingly small experience like this could be a turning point in the development of that apprentice.

At another FTP tour, Polly Shyka of MOFGA-certified organic Villageside Farm in Freedom marveled at the diverse bird population swooping over her diverse farmscape. A visitor told her, “You’re not raising crops here; you’re raising birds!”

Experiences like this happen over and over at these tours and provide perspective on our individual universes, thanks to the great work of MOFGA’s education staff.

Then comes the Fair, another mini-universe of MOFGA-related ideas about food and farming, energy and climate, crafts and health, gardening and homesteading. It’s where all the skills that concerned our MOFGA founders, and our membership since then, come together. I don’t know of anyplace else that features so much intersecting information that can make the world a better place and that demonstrates how much we all need and impact one another, whether we’re farmers, gardeners, homesteaders, consumers, activists, garden parade leaders, sheep dog trainers … As the garden parade sign says, “We all belong in the garden.”

All the good that comes from our MOFGA eco-community extends far beyond our borders when we leave the Fair, or any MOFGA event, just as that tiny quark on the hand of the picnicking man in “Powers of Ten” impacts and was impacted by the Universe.

Thanks for being part of the powers of MOFGA!

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